A Mentor’s Words Coming Full Circle

Mar 19, 2014

“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4:27

Each week at staff meeting, we take time to share two “God-Sightings” apiece. On a sticky note, we recount one moment of seeing God move in our personal lives and one story from the neighborhood or our daily work.

One week, Dawnielle came into staff meeting marveling at the wisdom and maturity she had seen in a second grader. At the end of December, Dawnielle was driving a bus full of Kids Club students on the way home from their ice skating field trip. The kids chattered away for awhile, but in a lull she overhead one student say, “My mom doesn’t love me because she won’t buy me gifts for Christmas.”

Jen, the second grader, sitting next to her, responded, “Don’t say that! Your mom loves you very much. Just because she won’t buy you things for Christmas doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. She loves you and cares for you. That’s the most important thing. And we love you very much and care about you, too.”

Dawnielle beamed. “She was like a little counselor!” she told the staff, concluding the story.

Fast forward one month later to January, when I was checking in with a new mentor, Eunice. During our monthly check-in she started expressing her doubts about her mentoring relationship. Eunice told me that in early December, she took her mentee, Jen, to a bookstore when Jen blurted out, “My parents don’t love me because they aren’t buying me anything for Christmas.”

“Why would you say that? Your parents love you very much,” replied Eunice.

Jen said, “Well, I want them to buy me what I want for Christmas.”

Eunice shook her head and continued. “Christmas isn’t about gifts,” she said. “It’s about being with the people you love. And your parents love you very much. That is the best gift you can have.”

Eunice reported that after this comment, Jen fell silent for a few moments before changing the subject and ambling further into the store.

“I’m afraid she’s getting the impression that the only way her parents love her is through buying her things,” she told me. “Love isn’t just buying things.”

I listened and began to smile.

“Eunice,” I said, “let me tell you a story Dawnielle shared in staff meeting this past Tuesday,” and I told her all about the wisdom Eunice shared with Jen being passed on to another Kids Club student.

We confirmed Dawnielle’s story happened after Eunice and Jen’s visit to the bookstore. Eunice was stunned; she had no idea her words had impacted Jen so much. Yet out of that one conversation, Jen had taken Eunice’s life-giving words, absorbed them, and later planted them in her friend’s ear.

As a staff and as a community, we revel in these moments of growth, small flowers of God’s love blooming in our kids. We take special care to share these moments, for although being a part of a relationship-based ministry sounds glamorous at the out-set, in reality, growth takes a slow pace and can be hard to see. Buds crop up smaller and more infrequently than we initially hope. “Are we making any difference?” often sneaks into mind. This is why we recount our God-Sightings together – we take time to encourage each other and each of our volunteers, knowing that doubt comes naturally.

We thank God for these stories – where we see how much God can use a comment the size of a mustard seed to grow life not only in one child, but in the other lives that child brushes against. How many small seeds have been spread and sprouted in our community, but outside of our awareness? While I doubt I’ll ever know the true number, I have every confidence that it far exceeds the two we share apiece each week.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, mentors, board members, and partners who faithfully spread the seeds, though we may not know or see how they grow.

– Adriana

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.